an airplane on the runway
American Airlines Boeing 737

Air travel is much safer than people think, even now. Studies show that the flow of air on planes can be multiple times safer than most indoor environments, and with pre-flight testing and vaccination, it’s getting safer still, by the day. But the airport is less of a joy. American Airlines has a new policy that helps people who cut timings “a little too close”, and it’s perfect for people who hate the airport.

American Airlines “15 Minute Rule”

US airlines made significant changes this year, including the removal of pesky flight change fees. If you need to swap to another flight, you’re pretty much just on the hook for fare difference. You can even standby for earlier or later flights on the day for free.

But what if you miss your flight entirely?

For years, a grey area existed where some airlines would say “it’s not our problem”, and buying a new ticket was the only solution, while others would show a sympathetic side, and try to get you on the next flight. American Airlines is removing the grey and worry, with a new “15 minute rule”, as per View From The Wing.

an airplane on the ground
American Airlines Boeing 737

The rule, basically, says that if you miss your flight, but are within 15 minutes of its departure when you turn up, American Airlines will gladly confirm you on the next available flight. For people turning up later than 15 minutes past, standby will still be offered.

Effective 20APR21, late-arriving customers are now able to be confirmed on the next flight if they arrive to an airport agent after check-in cutoff, but prior to 15 minutes after flight departure.

American Airlines

Obviously, if your only hope is a once daily flight, this doesn’t do all that much for you. If you’re flying between two cities with regular service though, it’s a godsend. In a time when few people want to linger around in public spaces, often filled to the rafters with others, this rule provides a little added comfort for those who like to cut it fine.

According to VFTW, the policy only works for American Airlines operated flights and codeshares on other airlines, which were booked with American flight numbers via American.

A change of destination is not allowed, but flights from a different airport, or into an alternative airport in the same city are allowed.

an airplane on the runway

I certainly love rocking up to an airport I know well, at 30 minutes prior to scheduled departure, betting on a swift journey through TSA PreCheck, or CLEAR to get me to the gate with minutes to spare. For a shuttle flight between DCA Reagan and New York LaGuardia this could be a dream!

I hate wasting time, and airports are typically the definition of wasted time. Well done, American Airlines, for taking a nerve racking grey area out of travel. No doubt this will be a huge help to everyone experiencing everything from flat tires to bad hangovers!

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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